As many New England football fans know, Bill Belichick has a soft spot for certain positions and players, both past and present, including opposing members of teams his New England Patriots meet on a weekly basis.
When asked about a certain member of the San Francisco 49ers, who will be competing against the Patriots this weekend, Belichick responded with some positive and kind words about their fullback, Kyle Juszczyk, who played locally at Harvard University before being selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth round of the 2013 National Football League (NFL) Draft.
Since becoming a professional football player, the former Crimson has recorded 186 catches for 1,722 yards and eight touchdowns while rushing for 111 yards on 28 carries and two scores in 112 contests. His best season as a pro occurred in 2015 when he hauled in a career-best 41 receptions for 321 yards and four touchdowns. He also moved the sticks 17 times.
While Juszczyk may not receive the same attention or recognition as his other teammates do like quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo or tight end George Kittle, he is certainly someone to watch every week, according to Belichick, who considers him a “versatile player,” but also one of the best fullbacks in the league.
“When he was with the Ravens, they used him in a lot of different ways and then San Francisco signed him to a big contract for a fullback,” Belichick said when addressing the media via Zoom this morning. “(He) certainly is the highest paid player at his position by quite a bit if I remember correctly, and he continues be used in a variety of ways.”
Belichick would continue by highlighting the various personnel the 49ers use when he is in the game, including 11, 12 and 21 personnel, before adding that the 49ers “use the fullback more than any other team in the league.”
“He’s been very productive for them,” said Belichick.
Through six games this season, Juszczyk has caught six of ten targets for 75 yards while rushing for 18 yards on three carries and one score. He is averaging close to two targets per game and one catch per contest while averaging 12.0 yards per reception.
Juszczyk will be the third Harvard alum Belichick and the Patriots will face this season – New England defeated Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Miami Dolphins in the opening week by a score of 21-11 before falling to Tyler Ott and the Seattle Seahawks in week two.
After a much-needed bye week – we apologize for the radio silence! – we’re back to producing a weekly National Football League (NFL) Power Rankings. And we’re excited to generate this list every week.
So, let’s unveil this week’s Top 20 teams through three weeks!
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Noontime’s Week Four Power Rankings (Sept. 29, 2020)
1. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0, Previously: No. 1): Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs looked pretty well last night against the Baltimore Ravens. In fact, we think they looked really good!
2. Seattle Seahawks (3-0, Previously: No. 3): If you let Russell Wilson cook, then he will make a delicious meal. And so far, Wilson is cooking up some magic after three impressive outings.
3. Baltimore Ravens (2-1, Previously: No. 2): Yes, the Ravens lost to the Chiefs last night, but they are still the second-best team in the AFC.
4. Green Bay Packers (3-0, Previously: No. 9): Initially, we thought the Packers would take a step back this year, but apparently our preseason thought has been incorrect, especially with three weeks of the 2020 season in the books.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0, Previously: No. 10): Ben Roethlisberger has looked pretty good thus far, but the same could be said for the Pittsburgh defense. Maybe they will be able to challenge the Ravens for the top spot in the AFC North?
6. Buffalo Bills (3-0, Previously: No. 7): Josh Allen is having a great season thus far. And their win against the Los Angeles Rams was an important one, especially after they squandered a 28-3 advantage.
7. Tennessee Titans (3-0, Previously: No. 8): Yes, we know the Titans and Minnesota Vikings will be sidelined until this weekend due to eight members of the Tennessee organization testing positive for the coronavirus. But whether they play or not this upcoming week, these Titans should not be overlooked – they’re a good football team. And they certainly remain the favorites in the AFC South.
8. New England Patriots (2-1, Previously: No. 5): The Patriots are proving they can win games with everyone in their locker room – we saw that on Sunday when they leaned heavily on Rex Burkhead, who rushed for three touchdowns. This week, the Pats face their toughest test of the season: Kansas City.
9. Los Angeles Rams (2-1, Previously: No. 13): The Rams came close to beating the Bills this past weekend but struggled to stop Josh Allen and the offense down the stretch. But as Sean McVay said after the game, the team will learn from this setback and bounce back. And we certainly expect that to happen this week against the New York Giants.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1, Previously: No. 11): Tom Brady and the Buccaneers have won back-to-back contests. And they should be able to string together another win this week against the Los Angeles Chargers (fingers crossed!).
11. San Francisco 49ers (2-1, Previously: No. 6): The 49ers have scored back-to-back wins against perhaps the two worst teams in the NFL – that would be the New York Giants and New York Jets. They should tack on another win this week against the winless Philadelphia Eagles.
12. New Orleans Saints (1-2, Previously: No. 4): Sure, the Saints have stumbled since beating Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, but this team needs to win this week to regain its week one mojo.
13. Chicago Bears (3-0, Previously: On The Rise): Somehow, Matt Nagy and the Bears have won three-straight games. Can they continue this momentum this week against the Indianapolis Colts?
14. Indianapolis Colts (2-1, Previously: No. Not Ranked): Philip Rivers and the Colts have won back-to-back contests, but face a good test this week against the undefeated Bears.
15. Dallas Cowboys (1-2, Previously: No. 14): The Cowboys have the talent, but are also banged up. Give the Boys credit for putting up a fight against the Seahawks, but they should be able to learn from this game, as well as their week one loss heading into a must-win contest on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.
16. Cleveland Browns (2-1, Previously: Not Ranked): Nick Chubb highlighted his team’s second-straight win of the 2020 season. He will certainly be a player to watch this week against the Cowboys.
17. Arizona Cardinals (2-1, Previously: No. 12): The Cardinals should have beaten the Detroit Lions, but instead faltered down the stretch. Can they rebound this week against the 1-2 Carolina Panthers? We’ll have to wait and see!
18. Las Vegas Raiders (2-1, Previously: No. 19): The Silver and Black sustained their first setback of the season to the Patriots on Sunday, but have looked somewhat decent against both the Panthers and Saints.
19. Miami Dolphins (1-2, Previously: Not Ranked): The Dolphins finally cracked the win column last week thanks to their tenured quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick.
20. Los Angeles Chargers (1-2, Previously: No. 18): The Chargers looked good against the Chiefs one week ago, but did not look good against the Panthers, especially down the stretch.
On the Rise: Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions, and Houston Texans
The Crimson (1-1, 1-0 Ivy) used a dominating defensive effort, while receiving another solid rushing performance by Charlie Booker III (77 yards, 2 touchdowns) to turn back the Bears (1-1, 0-1). Booker was named to this week’s Ivy Weekly Honor Roll.
Harvard coach Tim Murphy made a sudden change at quarterback when he gave first-year Jake Smith the starting nod over veteran Joe Viviano. Murphy was looking to jump-start his offense after a sluggish performance in his team’s week one setback to URI and the move paid dividends for the Crimson.
Smith looked good in his first start, completing five of seven passes for 72 yards, but faltered near the end of the half. Murphy would turn to Viviano in a relief role, with the Crimson holding a 14-2 lead late in the opening session.
Viviano (11-of-13, 150 yards) was up to the challenge and the Murphy wake-up call as he directed the offense for 31 points.
Georgetown enters the non-league clash after suffering a 35-14 loss to Columbia last week. Hoya QB Clay Norris showed a strong arm, completing 10-of-19 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns, however, the Hoyas managed a paltry net 2 yards on the ground.
Harvard’s defense will be tested by Norris, but my guess is that the unit will control the line of scrimmage and with that dominance the final score.
All in all, it will be interesting to see how Murphy manages his quarterbacks this week.
Bob’s Prediction: Harvard, with another week of practice to fine tune the offense, should cruise to a non-league win at RFK. RFK Stadium is named after Harvard graduate Robert F. Kennedy ’48, who played for the Crimson in 1946 and 1947, and went on to become United States Attorney General and U.S. Senator from New York. PREDICTION: Harvard 45, Georgetown 10
Up Next: Harvard travels to Ithaca, New York for a date with the Cornell Big Red on Saturday, Oct. 7th. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
Around the Ancient Eight (Extra, Extra): An Ivy League-record seven football standouts were named semifinalists for the prestigious William V. Campbell Trophy, which annually recognizes the top football scholar-athlete in the nation.
Brown senior defensive end Richard Jarvis, Columbia senior quarterback Anders Hill, Dartmouth senior quarterback Jack Heneghan, Harvard senior defensive back Tanner Lee, Penn senior wide receiver Justin Watson, Princeton senior quarterback Chad Kanoff and Yale senior offensive lineman Karl Marback have been nominated.
Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates for the award must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of playing eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player or significant contributor and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.
The 2017 award winner will be announced at the National Football Foundation Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 5.
The Ivy League is off to its best non-conference start (10-2) since 1970, when the teams went 12-0 in non-conference play … Smith became the first freshman since Ryan Fitzpatrick to start a game for Harvard during his rookie season … Princeton and Yale are receiving votes in both the FCS Coaches and STATS FCS polls, while Dartmouth, Harvard and Penn are receiving votes in the STATS FCS ranking … Things will heat up this week in the Ivy League title chase with two games featuring a battle of the unbeaten. The Penn Quakers (2-0) host Dartmouth (2-0) this evening (NBCSN), followed by Columbia (2-0) at Princeton (2-0) on Saturday.
Bob’s weekly report on Ivy League football was compiled from various Ivy League media sources. Stay connected with Bob Whitney on social media by following him on Twitter @WhitneyBob, while becoming a fan of him on Facebook and Instagram.